RICO: Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act For Dummies
RICO, or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, is a federal law that allows private parties to file lawsuits against individuals and organizations based on a “pattern of racketeering activity.” A “pattern” is defined as any two or more predicate acts within a 10-year period. While organized crime is the primary focus of RICO, it has also been used in cases involving fraud prosecutions and the abuse of speech and expression.
The RICO Act was passed by Congress in 1970 and was intended to target high-profile organized crime organizations. Although it was originally passed to combat organized crime, it is now mostly used to target white-collar crimes, political corruption, and fraudulent business practices. Unlike some federal laws, the RICO Act allows any person or entity to sue a criminal organization if they suffer any injury related to their activities. The act’s specific criminal acts can include murder, kidnapping, human smuggling, and tampering with witnesses.
RICO was enacted to target organized crime organizations, such as gangs and street gangs. It was intended to act as the ultimate hit man in mob prosecutions. However, because different mobsters perpetrated different crimes, it was impractical to shut down a whole gang. RICO’s broad scope made it possible to go after both illegal and legal organizations and has become a common tool for prosecutors.